Friday, March 5, 2004

Insert your own EU joke here

According to the Financial Times, many citizens of the new European Union entrants literally cannot understand the acquis communautaire:

Less than two months before 10 new member states join the European Union, it has emerged that about half have failed to translate the EU's 85,000-page rulebook into their national languages.

The embarrassing disclosure could have serious legal consequences, because EU laws are only enforceable in the new member states when written in the national tongue.

Some countries began the vast translation exercise as long ago as 1996, but the complexity of the work - and a shortage of translators - has overwhelmed some accession candidates. "There is an urgent need for this to be done, or there will be problems in implementing EU law in some acceding states," said a spokesman for Günter Verheugen, the EU enlargement commissioner.

posted by Dan at 05:36 PM | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (2)

A message from the editors at Foreign Policy

The managing editor of Foreign Policy sent me an e-mail yesterday regarding the Huntington kerfuffle. I just wanted to pass this part of the message along to the myriad contributors to's discussion threads:

Some of my colleagues and I think that comments by people on your blog are, by and large, some of the most interesting and thoughtful i've seen anywhere online on this debate.

Savor the praise.

posted by Dan at 01:11 PM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

What to read about jobs in the U.S. economy

The February employment data could have been better:

U.S. employers added 21,000 workers in February, less than the lowest forecast, further evidence of a "jobless'' economic recovery that may affect President George W. Bush's reelection prospects.

The results follow a January gain of 97,000 that was less than previously estimated, the Labor Department said in Washington, and trailed the median forecast of 130,000 in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The unemployment rate held at 5.6 percent as more Americans gave up their search for a job.

The Chicago Tribune also has economic gloom on today's front page:

As the nation's 8 million jobless wait for evidence that a growing economy will finally lead to robust hiring, one thing is already clear: Long-term joblessness is the worst it's been in this country for more than 20 years.

According to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, 22.1 percent of all unemployed workers were out of work for six months or more in 2003--the worst annual rate since 1983.

And a growing number of those long-term job seekers were people with lots of experience and plenty of education, raising more questions about the loss of highly paid work during the nation's persistent "jobless recovery."

Here's a link to the EPI report upon which the Trib story is based.

This is not going to look great for President Bush. However, Noam Scheiber -- hardly a Bush fan -- points out that it would be unfair to blame Bush for the current sluggishness in job growth:

Listening to Kerry, you almost get the impression that George W. Bush spends his waking hours personally scrolling through corporate payrolls looking for vulnerable people to throw out of work. By this logic, all you'd need was a president more sympathetic to the plight of the common man and you could instantly reverse the American economy's recent hemorrhaging of jobs. Alas, it's not so simple. As incompetent as Bush may be at managing the economy, he deserves little if any responsibility for the millions of jobs lost during his term. Nor is there much Kerry or any other Democrat could have done to reverse the trend had they been in office instead.

Call it cosmic justice for the Florida recount, or a genetic predisposition toward economic bad luck. But, whatever you call it, you have to acknowledge that the deck was pretty much stacked against Bush on the jobs issue from the day he entered office. Just like American businesses over-invested in computers and sophisticated factory machines during the bubble years of the late 1990s, they also over-invested in labor. There is some debate among mainstream economists over the lowest sustainable unemployment rate (known as the NAIRU, or non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, for sticklers). But even if you're optimistic and put it slightly below 5 percent, then the economy would have needed to shed between a million and a million-and-a-half jobs from its 2000 unemployment rate of 3.9 percent.

Finally, the continuing battle over the validity of the household survey for measuring jobs versus the payroll suvery for measuring jobs continues. According to the payroll survey, 716,000 jobs have been lost since the recession ended in November 2001; according to the household survey, 2.2 million jobs have been created.

The conventional wisdom among economists is that the payroll survey is the more reliable of the two in terms of measuring jobs. EPI's Elise Gould does a fine job of summarizing the arguments in favor of relying on the payroll survey.

The Heritage Foundation's Tim Kane argues that the conventional wisdom is wrong (link via Bruce Bartlett). A summary of his arguments:

The payroll survey double-counts many workers who change jobs and is now artificially deflated because job turnover is down. Decelerating turnover in 2002-2003 explains up to 1 million jobs artificially "lost" in the payroll survey since 2001.

The BLS household survey indicates record high employment. The disparity of 3 million jobs (in employment growth) between the household and payroll surveys since the recovery began is unprecedented.

The disparity between the two BLS surveys of total employment is cyclical. The disparity widens during recessions and narrows during periods of rapid growth in gross domestic product (GDP). Such variation strongly suggests a statistical bias in one of the surveys.

Payroll survey data are always preliminary. Past revisions have regularly shown the initial estimates to be off by millions of jobs. For example, initial estimates of job losses in 1992 were revised in 1993, 1994, and 1995 and now show net job creation.

The payroll survey does not count the surge in self-employment. The household survey has recorded a surge of 650,000 self-employed workers. This number may be even higher if modern workers in limited liability companies and in consulting positions with traditional firms are not identifying themselves as self-employed.

Go check everything out.

posted by Dan at 12:16 PM | Comments (42) | Trackbacks (1)

Thursday, March 4, 2004

More feedback on Huntington

The Economist does their take on Huntington's Foreign Policy essay. Last three grafs:

A large opinion poll co-ordinated in 2000 by the Washington Post found that 90% of new arrivals from Latin America believe that it is important for them to change in order to fit in with their adopted country. Only one in ten of second-generation Latinos relies mainly on speaking Spanish. Latinos do not see themselves as a monolithic ethnic group. Nor do they necessarily agree with the politics of their countrymen back home. The New America Foundation's Gregory Rodriguez points out that a significant proportion of the American troops being killed in Iraq are Latinos—and that the commander of the allied liberation forces there, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, grew up in a Texan county that is 98% Mexican-American.

Mr Huntington is right to point out that absorbing large numbers of people from a next-door country poses unusual problems. The United States needs to heed George Bush's call to bring immigrants out of the shadow economy where millions of them now work. It needs to scrap the failed experiment with bilingual education which has left so many immigrants unable to speak English. And it needs to stop pandering to ethnic demagogues with special programmes for ethnic minorities.

But the cost of closing the borders would be far bigger than keeping them open, by starving the economy of some of its most energetic workers. Throughout its history America's great strength has been its ability to absorb new people—and the new ideas and tastes that they bring with them. There is no reason to think that this will change just because the new people come across the Rio Grande rather than across the Atlantic.

Over at the Corner, John Derbyshire comments on my TNR critique of Huntington. He opens:

Dan Drezner's piece strikes me as fair and judicious. That does not, of course, mean "correct." I would seriously dispute a number of his points -- for example, that Mexico is redefining itself as a "North American" country. It seem more likely to me that the cultural gap between us and them is widening, not narrowing.

Just to reiterate -- I didn't say that Mexico was redefining itself as a North American country, though I believe this to be true. My point in the TNR essay was that Huntington thought this was true when he wrote The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order eight years ago.

In closing, here's an e-mail response to the TNR essay that I've received [No fair!! This is just a single anecdota!--ed. If Huntington can quote a guy talking to Robert Kaplan, I can use this.]:

I am a Mexican-American, I am a U.S. citizen. I live in El Centro, California, which is adjacent to the California-Mexico border. I want to make the following personal observations, which I believe are held by the majority of Hispanics.

First, a little background; my father was born in the USA, but for economic reasons my parents found it necessary to live on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border, and work in the USA. Because of this, I was born in Mexico. I was 6 years old when my parents moved to the USA, legally and permanently.

I strongly believe that the scenarios of doom that persons like Mr. Samuel Huntington and Mr. Victor Davis Hanson ("Mexifornia") are based on premises that are not based on reasoned research and analysis of the Hispanic community. I, and my siblings, are the second-generation Mexican-Americans of my family. I and one of my brothers, and my two sisters, are completely fluent in English and Spanish. My other brother, is not. His Spanish is horrendous, as is his wife's, also Mexican-American.

Their children? forget it--they wouldn't know a Spanish word if they got hit by one. My wife and I, also Mexican-American, are fluent in both languages. My oldest son was fluent at one time, he is 28, but is rapidly losing the Spanish. My other son, has trouble with it, and my baby, my daughter of 19 yrs old, can more understand it than speak it. I have a grandaughter, no Spanish whatsoever. I look around at my contemporaries and find the same phenomenom with their children and grandchildren.

The American culture is overwhelming and very, very powerful. MTV, VH-1, and the like have immense influence on children as they grow up. Our children are no different than others and in that they probably know more about Janet Jackson, NSync, Kid Rock, pizza, downloading music, Bill Gates, etc. etc, in other words American popular culture, than they do about "their" Mexican culture and language.

Over time, assimilation is complete.

We hear all the absurd claims, among them the most absurd is the claim that we, Mexican-Americans, want a 'Reconquista', the reclaiming of the land that Mexico lost to the USA during the Mexican-American war. Again, among my contemporaries I know of no one that wishes to replace our existing way of life and replace it with a government run and managed by Mexico City, with all that that nightmare would entail.

As with anything else, if you look hard enough you will find some group or another that will state just such a thing, but there are odd-balls in everything. For example, if you search hard enough I am sure that you will find some Americans that support a dictatorship in the USA, yet they don't speak for the majority of Americans.

As for those that claim that illegal immigrants pose a threat, are these the same illegal immigrants that risk their life, their families, their livelihoods, their savings, to cross into the USA, for what??? To impose a government and an economy that they risked so much to get away from??

posted by Dan at 01:44 PM | Comments (35) | Trackbacks (7)

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

March Books of the Month

Given February's elevation of trade questions to the forefront of political debate, both of this month's books are devoted to the topic -- from slightly different directions.

In the United States, arguments against the merits of free trade and investment tend to fluctuate with the business cycle. When growth is robust and times are good, the arguments made against globalization are non-economic: it deteriorates labor and environmental standards in other countries, it leads to cultural homogenization, yada, yada, yada. When growth is weak and times look uncertain, the arguments made against globalization are pitched to appeal to material self-interest: free trade causes unemployment, America is losing its "competitive advantage," yada, yada, yada.

This month's two books address divide their labor in terms of defending the merits of free trade. Douglas Irwin's Free Trade Under Fire does an excellent job of demolishing the recession-based arguments made against free trade, while assembling all of the arguments and evidence for why trade is a win-win proposition.

As for flush times, Jagdish Bhagwati's In Defense of Globalization marshalls considerable evidence that globalization does not need a human face because it already has a human face. By lifting people out of poverty, globalization is a cure for many social ills.

Go check them out.

posted by Dan at 03:59 PM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)

Challenging the Hispanic Challenge

My first response to Huntington's Foreign Policy essay -- some of which appears in my latest TNR Online essay -- is in this post from last week.

Here's a link to Samuel Huntington's essay "The Hispanic Challenge"; you can purchase and advance copy of Who We Are here. If you study political science and don't have either Political Order in Changing Societies or The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, you should. The quotations in Clash in the essay come from pages 150 and 136 respectively.

For a lovely biographical essay of Huntington, you could do far worse than Robert D. Kaplan's December 2001 Atlantic Monthly essay.

For an excellent, dispassionate look at how the 19th century version of globalization affected the United States, see Kevin O'Rourke and Jeffrey Williamson's Globalization and History

David Brooks' New York Times column from last Tuesday on Huntington provided the 60% figure on English-speaking habits among third-generation Hispanic Americans.

I've disagreed with Huntington before -- see my review of The Clash of Civilizations in The Washington Quarterly here.

The Franklin and Schlesinger quotes come from Schlesinger's July 1921 American Journal of Sociology fascinating essay, "The Significance of Immigration in American History." Some of you can access this on JSTOR. Frankin is quoted on p. 74; Schlesinger's quote comes from p. 83 of the article.

The Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research at the University of Albany is doing fascinating things with Census data on Hispanics. The report that's directly quoted can be found here, but check out this one on how race factors into the equation as well. I am exceedingly grateful to Robert Tagorda for posting about it.

For an economic analysis of the immigration question, chapter 15 of Kenneth Dam's The Rules of the Global Game is an excellent starting point.

Final effort towards full disclosure -- Huntington, in addition to founding Foreign Policy, also founded the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. During the 1996-97 academic year, I was fortunate enough to be a post-doctoral fellow at that institute.

posted by Dan at 10:56 AM | Comments (35) | Trackbacks (8)

Revisiting Huntington

Remember last week when I said about Samuel Huntington's new essay that, "I think he's wrong now. I'll be posting much more about this later."?

Those five of you waiting on pins and needles will finally be sated. Huntington's essay is the topic of my latest TNR Online essay. Go check it out.

posted by Dan at 10:19 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (1)

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Stacking the deck on science

I've been remiss in not commenting on the administration decision to change the composition of the Bioethics Advisory Council. I've certainly been remiss in linking to Jacob Levy's dissection of these changes. And I've been really remiss in not linking to Glenn Reynolds' Tech Central Station analysis, since he uses Carmen Electra as a metaphor.

Glenn has a further roundup of reaction here (As you would expect, Virginia Postrel is less than thrilled). Even Ramesh Ponnuru, who agrees with the administration, think this was a political screw-up.

UPDATE: Glenn has more here.
Leon Kass defends the Bioethics Advisory Council here.

posted by Dan at 11:30 AM | Comments (52) | Trackbacks (0)

Manufacturing update

The Institute for Supply Management issued their February report. Here's the highlights from Fox News:

U.S. factories boomed at close to a 20-year high in February, according to a survey released Monday that also suggested a turnaround in hiring may be on the horizon after a three-year struggle.

The Institute for Supply Management said its monthly manufacturing index fell to 61.4 in February from January's two-decade high of 63.6, showing the ninth straight month of expansion in the sector that makes up less than a fifth of the U.S. economy....

A reading above 50 in the index shows expansion. All 20 industry sectors in the survey also showed expansion....

The employment index jumped to 56.3 in February -- the highest since December 1987 -- from January's 52.9. ISM's Ore said more and more factories were reporting hiring though it has yet to show up in government employment statistics.

One source of increasing manufacturing employment will come from Japanese auto firms, according to the Chicago Tribune:

Amid the furor over the loss of U.S. jobs overseas, a movement is under way in the opposite direction, fueled by the foreign companies blamed for employment migration decades ago.

Steadily, the three big Japanese auto companies--Toyota, Honda and Nissan--are expanding their U.S. operations and adding workers.

Honda is hiring 2,000 in Alabama to build sport-utility vehicles, and Nissan will add more than 2,000 in plant expansions in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Toyota, the largest of the three with 25,000 U.S. manufacturing workers, will add 2,700 jobs within two years, 2,000 at a truck plant under construction in San Antonio.

When it opens in 2006, the Japanese Big Three will have capacity to build 4.3 million vehicles in North America and will employ nearly 70,000 U.S. autoworkers.

The Japanese car companies, blamed for taking U.S. auto industry jobs in the 1970s and 1980s, are building and hiring here because they are selling more cars here.

[Must be because their productivity is lower and therefore they need to hire more workers--ed.] Actually, the reverse is true:

In recent years, Toyota has rolled out North American-built models that are bigger, better equipped and less expensive than previous versions.

The 2004 Toyota Camry Solara convertible, built in Georgetown, Ky., has a base price $2,095 less than the 2003 model, despite new features such as a larger engine.

Part of the price cut stems from a new body welding line at the Kentucky plant that Toyota is adopting worldwide. It uses fewer welding robots, takes up less space and costs $20 million, half the cost of the previous welding line.

"They're masters at that," said David Cole, director of the Center for Auto Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "The way you compete with low-cost labor is you get really good as fast as you can."

The 2003 Harbor and Associates productivity report, a widely watched study of North American auto plants, bears out the Japanese efficiencies.

Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., plant was the most productive, requiring 17 labor hours per vehicle. Toyota averaged 22 hours per vehicle, with Honda close behind. GM averaged 24 hours, Ford 26 and Chrysler 28.

posted by Dan at 11:22 AM | Comments (36) | Trackbacks (0)

A new source for offshore outsourcing

Sreenath Sreenivasan, an associate professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, has set up an ousourcing page with tons of links. Go check it out and see which fact/story you think is the most interesting.

My winner is this story by Sreenivasan about what piqued media interest in the offshoring phenomenon:

[A]part from tech and business reporters, most folks I spoke to had little interest in the [outsourcing] story, presuming this was just like other movements of jobs overseas, such as, say, manufacturing to China....

Everything changed Feb. 9, 2004, thanks to small items in The New York Times (by media reporter Jacques Steinberg) and on the AP wire. Reuters was going to hire six journalists in Bangalore, India, to cover announcements from U.S. companies (none replacing existing employees elsewhere, Reuters said). This served as a wake-up call to journalists who had had no interest in the topic of jobs moving overseas.

I immediately started getting e-mail messages and phone calls from people whose attention I'd been trying to get. Nothing like the prospect of our own necks being on the line to make us listen. Gee, if I spend most of my day "reporting" by using the phone and the Internet, couldn't someone who is paid one-tenth of my salary easily do this job?

Alas, this confirms what I wrote here about the Reuters story.

This piece of information is also interesting:

About 10 percent of the dues-paying members of the ITPAA, the main anti-outsourcing group in the U.S. are Indian-Americans.

posted by Dan at 01:02 AM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (2)

Monday, March 1, 2004

Haiti and drugs

Patrick Belton at OxBlog has been following the Haiti situation, so go check out his posts (here's his latest).

Yesterday the Chicago Tribune had a front-page story illustrating the difficulty of dealing with either the government or the rebels on this issue. The highlights:

[E]xperts and diplomats say several of the top rebel leaders are former military and police officials who are suspected of major human-rights violations while in power and who allegedly have financed their insurgency with past profits from the illegal drug trade.

That puts the would-be leaders on similar footing with the government of embattled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who U.S. officials and others say has allowed Haiti to become one of the region's most significant transit points for Colombian cocaine on its way to the United States....

But as U.S. officials back away from Aristide, they risk helping to power a cadre of unsavory characters who may do little to stem the flow of cocaine and other illicit drugs into the United States, experts and diplomats say.

"There is absolutely nothing redeeming about these guys," said Alex Dupuy, a Haiti expert at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. "They are a bunch of thugs. It's hard to imagine that the U.S. would want to support these guys back in power."

The two top rebel leaders have been suspected of involvement in the drug trade. Authorities in Haiti and elsewhere believe top commander Guy Philippe became involved in narcotics smuggling in the 1990s while he was a leading Haitian police official. Philippe denied in an interview with the Tribune that he ever participated in the drug trade....

Haiti's state institutions have long been weak because of the nation's devastated economy. And its now-crumbling police force and much of its political elite have been tainted by the cocaine trade, according to U.S. officials, experts and others.

For two decades, Colombian drug lords have used money and power to turn the island nation into a virtual base of operations, using its isolated beaches and even highways as landing strips to off-load cocaine later shipped to U.S. shores.

Judith Trunzo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, said last year that an interior minister's travel visa to the United States was canceled because of suspected involvement in narcotics trafficking.

At least five other Haitian officials' visas were canceled under similar suspicion, a diplomatic source said last week.

Read the whole thing.

posted by Dan at 12:30 PM | Comments (27) | Trackbacks (1)